Cops scolded for police helicopter flight path: 'A joyride is NOT essential work'

The controversial Columbus, Ohio police aviation division is again receiving harsh criticism.

"Overnight, one of the Columbus Division of Police helicopters traced an, um, interesting route, circling over a neighborhood on the Southeast Side of the city and spelling out 'CPD' in the air," Columbus Alive reported Saturday, linking to the flight path on FlightAware.

FlightAware flight path of N551CPScreengrab.

Columbus City Council president pro tempore Elizabeth Brown blasted the flight on Twitter, saying she was "beyond frustrated."

The Department released a statement noting it "became aware of negative online comments" and is "reviewing" the flight.

The aviation division has been controversial.

"Only 10 weeks ago, the Columbus Division of Police helicopter unit was flying high into a bright future, with officials planning for its sixth decade of operation by phasing in a new chopper model later this year. But after the George Floyd protests erupted in late May, putting new scrutiny on the militarization and funding of police departments across the nation, the unit is suddenly under a microscope. Some community members are demanding the expensive operation simply fly off into the sunset," The Columbus Dispatch reported in August of 2020.

"Of the 906 written comments submitted by the public during hearings last month into the division's operations, 207 of them, or 23%, involved helicopters. Some people say they largely don't like the noise, the feeling of police surveillance and military operations. But most said they don't like the high cost — money that could be put toward social programs," the newspaper explained.

Social worker Stephen David said "It definitely feels like the helicopter is omnipresent" and that it "sounds like a war zone" in his South Side neighborhood.

"The real issue is that we're spending our money on things that are actually not going to get at the heart of the issues that we're trying to address," David said. "I'm distrustful of how the city Division of Police uses our tax dollars."